Jaguar XJ: the lowdown
No, it’s not the all-new XJ. As you’ll spot from the familiar curves and statesmanlike shape, Jaguar’s luxury car isn’t about to get all radical overnight. Instead, next spring we’ll see a gentle facelift to bring a dash more style to this, the most conservative of limos on sale today. CAR Online’s exclusive spy shots captured the XJ testing near Jag’s Coventry HQ. Minimal disguise hides a clutch of styling tweaks that won’t be seen until the Geneva Motor Show in March 2007 – but we can reveal the changes over the next three pages.
What is new, then?
Jaguar’s exterior facelift is threefold: the front gets a redesigned bumper and grille; prominent chrome side gills (like those on the Range Rover, and Jag’s own Portfolio-spec XJ) will be added just behind the wheelarches; and the rear bumpers and bootlid get a freshen-up. Although disguise panels conceal the nose of the car, Jaguar will add a much deeper grille design to distinguish the refreshed model; this is a major change for Jag design – and the XJ’s front redesign will pave the way for the new, rectangular shield grille to be seen on next year’s new S-type-replacing XF. The XJ’s traditional round headlamps remain, however.
What else is new on the XJ?
The new look is the main change. Expect to see the familiar 3.0 six-cylinder, and 3.5 and 4.2 V8 petrol engines, plus the impressive TDV6 diesel continue unchanged. Don’t expect much alteration inside the cabin, either. Jag’s efforts have concentrated on the XJ’s Achilles’ heel: its staid exterior styling.
Will the XJ always be so conservative?
Thankfully, no. Jaguar has taken criticism of its trad design to heart and next year’s S-type replacement, the XF, marks a switch to more modern design. The 2007 facelift shown here will have to keep the XJ going until 2009, but the next-generation model will be much more avantgarde, insiders claim. Not a single panel will be taken over from the current XJ. We are effectively talking about a new architecture with new dimensions, new proportions and a new message: Jaguar doesn’t want to chase sales of the A8, 7 series and S-class. Instead, it hopes to create a very British alternative to the Maserati Quattroporte and Mercedes CLS. Codenamed X351, the new XJ will place the emphasis on style over accommodation. Much of the mechanical package will be shared with the XK and XF: expect a new 3.2-litre straight six courtesy of Volvo and a bigger-bore 5.0-litre V8, both in normally and artificially aspirated form. In addition, two diesels are under preparation: a 3.0-litre V6 and a 4.2-litre V8.